Saturday, May 25, 2013

Electronics Review: Cambridge Soundworks GCS300 Speakers

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Decent sound for the size
Cons: Hard to adjust volume, some minor speaker issues
The Bottom Line:
They're simple speakers
If that's all you really need
You will not go wrong

Nothing Outstanding, but These Speakers Work Well at Work

I am a product of my generation - I must have background noise going most of the time.  I have most of my music library on my computer at work, and I have music playing in the background most of the day.  Somewhere along the way, I was given the Cambridge Soundworks GCS300 by my IT department at work to use.  They aren't outstanding speakers, but they certainly work for my needs.

These speakers are rather compact.  They are about six inches tall, four inches wide, and four inches deep.  I appreciate that since they don't take up much room on my desk.  In fact, they fit rather comfortably next to my monitor.  The pair I have are an off white color; I don't know if they come in any other colors.

These are the definition of easy to operate.  They come with three plugs.  One plugs them into a power source.  This wire is black.  The other two are the same color as the speakers themselves.  One of these connects the right speaker to the computer, and one connects the left speaker to the right speaker.  These have traveled with me for many years and over many moves, and I usually wind up rehooking them up myself.  I've always done it in about 5 seconds.

The right speaker has all the controls.  It's got a power button, so you can turn the speakers off completely.  There's also a volume knob to turn.  And around the side is a plug for your headphones, which I've never used. 

You'll notice what is missing from the description.  You can't control the balance between speakers or the balance of treble or bass at all.  However your computer is set is exactly how the sound will come out.

Now I will be the first to say I'm not an audiophile at all.  Heck, I use the speakers on my personal laptop at home and the stereo system that came with my car.  But having said that, I think these speakers sound fine.  I'm not a big bass person, and these don't have a heavy bass presence, which may be one reason I like them.  However, when a song with a heavy bass sound does come on, I can certainly hear it.  I never have any problem understanding the lyrics I am listening to.  And I can usually pick out the instruments I am hearing even with the volume down low enough so none of my co-workers hear my music.

Since they are my work speakers, I've never used them for games.  However, I will occasionally watch some videos on them (after work hours, really!)  The sound is fine for them as well.  If the source is bad, I often find myself having to turn it up a bit more, but again I can hear all the dialogue I am supposed to be hearing.

As nice as they are, I do have a couple of complaints.  The volume knob seems to be very sensitive.  When I do need to adjust the volume, it seems like just a small turn really increases or decreases how loud it is.  I find I have to fiddle with it some to adjust things so they are perfect again.

Additionally, the left speaker seems to cut out at times.  Since most of the music I have on my computer doesn't make big use of stereo effects, I usually don't notice.  But every so often I will notice the left speaker pop back in, usually when I start to adjust the volume.  It would be nice if both speakers worked all the time, but I don't seem to notice when they don't.

Both of the flaws are annoying, but neither is fatal.  I've actually passed on some chances to upgrade my speakers because the Cambridge Soundworks GCS300 work well for me, giving me good sound without annoying my co-workers.

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